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LLM in Alternative Dispute Resolution (LLM in ADR) Degree

The Graduate and International Programs office is available to help you develop your individual job search strategies. A career advisor is dedicated to helping ADR students and alumni with their career development by providing personalized advice and review of resumes, cover letters and applications.

Throughout the academic year, we will host several career workshops to cover the basics of the job search process in the U.S. We organize career panels with alumni and industry leaders so you can learn more about possible career pathways. If you hold a first degree in law from outside of the U.S., you can participate in two LLM-exclusive job fairs in New York and Los Angeles during the year.

You also will be able to attend USC Gould Continuing Legal Education conferences at which you can make valuable connections with law professionals, USC Gould alumni and peers.

Domestic Trained Lawyers

If you are interested in enrolling in a specialized LLM, you should be clear about how this degree will add value to your professional development. Because of the breadth of jobs where this specialized degree may be applicable, and because your specific path will depend on your experience and interest, we cannot provide a comprehensive list of relevant jobs.

If you recently graduated from your JD, we recommend that you take time to gain work experience before enrolling in a master's degree.

Foreign Trained Lawyers

While the majority of our students choose to return to their home countries after graduation, some students seek to expand their experiences in the United States after completing their programs by looking for short-term "practical training" positions. Please note that the market for foreign-trained attorneys in the U.S. is very limited, and only a very small percentage of foreign-trained graduates from all U.S. law schools find work here. Students' citizenship or residency status can be an additional barrier to employment. Additionally, because the legal market can be very competitive, the students who are successful in obtaining employment in the U.S. typically have earned excellent grades in their graduate studies and have also passed a U.S. bar exam.

To assist you, we offer academic support resources throughout the year, bar exam preparation and help with applications, and we work with the Office of International Services to address issues regarding Optional Practical Training.

Career Pathways

As a graduate of the LLM in ADR degree, you will be able to achieve greater levels of success within your current organization, or may use the degree to prepare for a career as a mediator or arbitrator. USC Gould offers specialized career workshops to our ADR degree students. These workshops include specific group and individualized guidance on:

  • preparing for a career in and building a network as a mediator or arbitrator
  • building business plans for ADR practice
  • developing materials to market your ADR practice
  • networking to build your ADR practice
  • operating your ADR practice as a business

In addition to developing a practice as a mediator or arbitrator, many types of careers benefit from exposure to ADR practices. Our courses are developed to build widely useful skills such as communication, problem-solving, management and team-building.

Organizations increasingly use dispute resolution processes to handle business and human resources issues. ADR expertise increases your marketability for a range of work settings, including business, government, human resources, counseling, education and social work. Lawyers trained in dispute resolution also learn to become more effective advocates for clients regardless of the area of practice. Here are some common examples of in-demand jobs where having ADR knowledge and skills could help you excel:

  • Labor Relations Mediator (State or Federal Government)
  • Director of Employee & Labor Relations
  • Ombudsman (Corporate, Healthcare, Higher Education, etc.)
  • ADR Associate
  • Executive Director, Non-Profit ADR Provider
  • Government Appointed Arbitrator
  • Employee Relations Consultant
  • Commercial Arbitrator
  • Management Consultant
  • Dispute Systems Designer
  • Coach
  • Facilitator
  • ADR Trainer
  • Government Conflict Management Specialist
  • International Conflict Prevention Specialist
  • Law Enforcement Liaison
  • Mediation/Arbitration Case Manager

* Note that this not intended as a comprehensive list.

ADR as a First Career

Many LLM in ADR graduates pursue a first career in ADR. Entry level administrative positions requiring ADR skills and education such as case managers and program administrators can be found within a diverse set of employers, including federal and state governments, ADR service providers (both pro bono and for-profit), universities, and a growing number of law firms. Entry level jobs involving ADR practice are rare and highly competitive.

Demonstrating practical experience in ADR processes is crucial for success. Our award-winning mediation clinics, ADR competitions and robust externship program, provide you with important experiential learning opportunities to begin building your ADR portfolio.

Many of our graduates take an entrepreneurial approach to starting a career in ADR. The marketplace for private practice mediators and arbitrators is extremely competitive and requires the additional skill set of a small business owner. Our career workshops teach you the tools and strategies necessary to build a thriving practice as a professional neutral.

Pivoting Your Career to ADR

Our ADR programs may also open career opportunities by allowing you to pivot your career toward new roles in your chosen field. For example, a seasoned litigator working primarily on construction defect cases may pivot to a career as mediator or arbitrator specializing in similar cases. Individuals working in business could obtain our business law certificate. Another person working in technology could take courses in intellectual property law.

Through our ADR coursework, you will be better equipped to:

  • Advance into leadership positions
  • Better understand your clients in business and therefore better serve their needs
  • Work internationally with attorneys and neutrals in the rapidly expanding field of international ADR.

Our LLM in ADR degree prepares you for a unique range of opportunities that will allow you to reach your professional goals.

California and New York Bar Exam Eligibility

Enrollment in an LLM degree does not guarantee that you will be eligible to take a U.S. bar exam or practice law in the United States. You should review the requirements set by each state in which you wish to sit for the exam. The American Bar Association's Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements provides additional information.

USC Gould academic advisers can assist you with choosing courses that help prepare you for the bar exams in New York and California. Download our Bar and Certificate Checklist for more information. Students are able to enroll in both a bar exam "track" and a certificate "track."

If you are an international student interested in seeking admission to the District of Columbia (D.C.) bar, you should consider the traditional LLM degree.

We also offer an Early Bar Preparation series of four daylong workshops exclusively for our students throughout the year. The workshops cover pertinent substantive law tested by the bar exam as well as guidance on essay writing, multiple choice, performance tests and general test-taking skills.

Optional Practical Training

Some LLM students choose to enhance their U.S. legal education by gaining short-term, practical training in a law firm or other legal setting after graduation. The Graduate & International Programs office will assist you with the application for Optional Practical Training (OPT) during the spring semester. For current rules on OPT - the authorization required for eligibility for such work experiences - visit the USC Office of International Students website.

LLM-JD Transfer Program

Students enrolled in the LLM in ADR degree are not eligible to apply to the LLM-JD Transfer Program at USC Gould. For more information on the LLM-JD Transfer Program, please visit this link.